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Message from the CEO – September 2014 

Cecil Russell

Chamber CEO,
Cecil Russell

We have just completed the Modesto Chamber’s State of Business & Education Forum. Superintendent of Stanislaus County Schools, Tom Changnon addressed the meeting with an update on the county’s initiative “Destination Graduation.” This initiative is important for our area to attract new businesses and educated, employable community members are critical to achieving that goal. This multi-year program focuses on five pillars: mentoring programs, summer learning programs for at risk students, sharing of best practices, parental awareness programs and joining the National 3rd Grade Reading Campaign. You can find more information about this initiative by going to Stanislaus County Office of Education’s website: www.stancoe.org.

There was a presentation by Rick Bartkowski, Stanislaus County Office of Education, on Common Core with teachers and students discussing their views. This major shift in curriculum and teaching practices for our students is intended to increase critical thinking as the students progress in their education.

Many of you may not be aware that in the past year there have been a large number of lawsuits brought against small business owners throughout the Valley in regard to the American Disabilities Act. There are several lawyers and three to four law firms from across the state that have sued small companies, alleging noncompliance to ADA regulations. These firms have already canvassed larger counties and are now focusing on medium sized counties such as Stanislaus. Demand letters reference injuries, and seek monetary sum to settle these cases. Most of the noncompliance issues deal with lack of proper access ramps, parking lot compliance, proper signage, improper bathroom fixtures, and door handles.

There are a number of measures that companies can take to avoid lawsuits and come into ADA compliance. Businesses should not cave into pressure to settle for noncompliance, but rather seek help from experts. The following list of websites are available to provide more information:







Businesses in threat of one of these lawsuits are also encouraged to contact our elected Representatives: Jeff Denham, Kristen Olsen, Cathleen Galgiani, Anthony Cannella, Adam Gray and Tom Berryhill, to notify their officies of the frequency of these cases and the firms raising to allegations.

The Modesto Grand Prix sponsored by local supermarket, Save Mart, occurred in downtown Modesto the first weekend of August. This event featured about 260 SuperKarts! USA drivers racing on our downtown streets that were magically turned into a highspeed racetrack. We congratulate the city for stepping up to bring this event to our community, we also thank the North Modesto Kiwanis for all of the guidance and support they provided for this event. It was a great first year with about 10,000 to 12,000 spectators coming downtown to view this unique race. We received a number of great comments from visitors who enjoyed our hospitality, some of whom had never been to our city. This was a great family event a very reasonable cost. It was heartwarming to see so many families enjoying the excitement that this event generated. There were many learning opportunities that will help this event improve as we hopefully will have the race return for many encores.

Our Stanislaus Green Team honored two major manufactures with their Green Team Certification this past month. We are proud to announce that both Frito Lay and Crystal Creamery received their certificates during events that included recognition from our Congressman, Jeff Denham, State Senators Tom Berryhill and Anthony Cannella, State Assembly Member Kristin Olsen and our Mayor, Garrad Marsh. We are very pleased that these two great companies are here in Modesto. They employ over 1,000 people and are great partners in our community. Thank You Frito Lay and Crystal Creamery.

The City of Modesto honored the Mayor’s Top Teens August 12th at the City Council Meeting. The Top Teens Program is a unified, community collaboration to commend and honor everyday good acts and accomplishments.

Thirty-three local teenagers have demonstrated extraordinary efforts and commitment to serving others, overcoming adversity in their lives, achieving significant accomplishments, and are the epitome of a positive role model for their peers. We are very proud of this year’s top teens. There is no doubt that they are the future leaders of our community.

In this issue of Progress we are featuring a local business that has grown throughout its 55 years of service to Modesto and surrounding cities. This business was managed by our former Mayor Jim Ridenour and grew under his leadership to become American Medical Response. We are very proud to have a professional company of their caliber in our community.

Please mark your calendar for this year’s Oktoberfest.We will again be at John Thurman Field on Friday October 3rd, celebrating our 31st year of live music, beer & wine tasting, enjoying German Food and great friendship. We will also be holding our State of the Region Economic Development Conference/Business Expo on October 22nd at Modesto Centre Plaza. This promises to be a great event that will focus on economic development. Dave White from the Stanislaus Alliance and our top elected officials will discuss economic opportunities and job development that can help bring economic prosperity to our region and contribute to further improving the quality of life in our community.

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